I wake up early and join the family in the morning activities that start our day. After greeting everyone, asking how they woke up, I start in with a few of the chores, helping where I can. My host mother is busy doing dishes or preparing breakfast while the kids help out, taking time to tease each other and chat. I bathe while watching the sun rise and quickly get dressed for work after taking what seems like forever washing my hair and enjoying the hot water. Though they are on holiday now, when classes were still in session my host siblings would complain about getting ready for school and dawdle with preparing their school bags. I join the family in eating breakfast and brush my teeth. My hostmom and I bike to work, sharing the road with other cyclists and cars, pedestrians and push-bike taxis.

I arrive at work and greet my coworkers, asking how their mornings and families are. Sometimes I sneak in a bit of yoga if I come early and then get started. A lot of my work involves sitting on a computer and typing up reports and weekly learning notes, though the better days allow me to go out to the field with the office to visit ADC meetings and discuss the Area Mechanic report forms and the increased communication plan. Sometimes I attend other meetings for Water Users Associations or District Executive Meetings where I learn more about what NGOs are doing in Machinga District. We have frequent meetings in the office to debrief from ADC’s, discuss the week’s plans, budget and plan using that month’s ORT, and converse about other issues. If I’m lucky I may spend a morning visiting a Gravity Fed Scheme or electric borehole system and chat with the plumbers and board members.

I bike home for lunch and then take the rest of the break to bike around and get some exercise or read in the shadow of a baobab. After the work day is over, I may chat with a friend at the market or get a fanta, but mostly I join the evening commute home and visit with people nearby. My hostfamily finishes up the work around the house and prepares dinner, chatting and laughing with visiting neighbours, and I help out where possible. After we eat dinner as a family, we sit and chat for a bit before retiring to bed.

Life is still life, chores have to be done and people have to go to work, whether it involves a push-bike commute from Chabwera village to the office or a bus ride in Vancouver.